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New Scottish legislation for short-term lets came into effect on 1 March 2022. Learn what the legal requirements for letting a holiday property are, and how the new licensing laws in Scotland will work.

 

In this section:

  1. What is the short-term let legislation?
  2. Who is it for?
  3. What do you need to do?
  4. Next steps to get ready to apply for a licence
  5. Key questions
  6. Industry advisory group
  7. Industry Advisory Group participants

1. What is the short-term let legislation?

The Scottish Government has introduced a licensing regime for short-term lets in Scotland. Under the scheme, local authorities will be required to establish a short-term let licensing scheme by 1 October 2022.

If you are an existing host or operator (operating before 1 October 2022) you will have to apply for a licence before 1 April 2023. You can continue to receive guests and accept bookings while your application is being determined.

After 1 October 2022, new operators of short-term let accommodation must have a licence before taking any bookings. This also applies to existing operators who establish new short-term let accommodation after 1 October 2022.

By 1 July 2024, it will be illegal to operate a short-term let without a licence in all circumstances. Before 1 July 2024, it will be illegal in some circumstances, including:

  • Where a new host or operator starts operating while their application is being determined. Or where they continue to operate where a licence application has been refused;
  • Where an existing host or operator continues to operate where a licence application has been refused.

 

Local authorities may also choose to designate short-term let Planning Control Areas (PCA). From the date of designation, in addition to a licence, providers of secondary letting of an entire residential home or flat within a PCA will need one of two things:

  1. Change of use planning permission (planning permission must either be in force, or an application has been made and not yet determined)
  2. Certificate of lawfulness

 

Where the change of use of an entire residential home or flat to a short-term let took place before the designation of the control area planning permission may be required, where the change is material. You may wish to contact your local planning authority for advice, if you are unsure whether you need planning permission.

2. Who is it for?

The licensing scheme applies to the whole of Scotland and will be implemented by the 32 local authorities.

The regulations will apply to all short-term let accommodation, unless they are specifically excluded from the legislation. If you are unsure whether you need a licence or not, you may wish to consider seeking independent legal advice.

 

The following types of accommodation could all be considered a short-term let:

  • B&B and guesthouse
  • Boat (if static and not used for transportation)
  • Boathouse
  • Cabin
  • Castle
  • Chalet
  • Cottage
  • Exclusive use venue where accommodation is provided (without a liquor licence: Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005)
  • Farmhouse
  • Holiday caravan or glamping pod (without a caravan site licence: Caravan sites and Control of Development Act 1960)
  • Lighthouse
  • Lodge
  • Self-catering unit / holiday let
  • Serviced apartment – on its own, or up to four in a building
  • Shared home or rooms within a home
  • Shepherd hut
  • Tent, tipi or wigwam
  • Treehouse
  • Yurt

Read the Scottish Government guidance - more extensive information and a list of exclusions.

 

Exclusions include:

  • B&B or guest house with a premises licenced under Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005
  • Bothy (a building at least 100m from a public road and with no form of mains electricity, piped fuel or water, as defined in the Licensing Order)
  • Holiday caravan or glamping pod sited within a park with a caravan site licence (Caravan sites and Control of Development Act 1960)
  • Hotels with a premises licence under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005
  • Self-catering accommodation within the grounds of a licenced premises / hotel (Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005), where the accommodation is specifically mentioned as part of the operating plan
  • Serviced apartment – where an operator manages five or more in one building

3. What do you need to do?

Short-term let operators should consider potential planning requirements. Outwith a control area planning permission may still be required if the change of use of a premises is considered to be a material change.

It's also important to check whether the property meets the required short-term let licensing standards.

 

Important info for those considering entering the short-term let market

Please consider the cost of compliance with the mandatory and additional conditions. Many of the licence conditions relate to existing law or best practice so are unlikely to be an additional cost for existing operators. Local authorities will charge a fee for making a licence application. The fee may differ across local authorities and for different types of licence, e.g. home sharing, home letting and secondary letting. If you need to apply for planning permission there will also be a fee for making a planning application.

 

The Scottish Government has provided guidance:

 

Getting your application right first time will help licensing authorities in processing it. It may help you to get a decision more quickly. The timescales for determination are dependent on various factors including licensing authority workloads. Your licensing authority will set out the detail and format of any documentation that you need for your application.

There are mandatory conditions that every short-term let in Scotland will need to follow. These are concerned with the safety of the activity.

Licensing authorities can also set more conditions to address any specific local circumstances.

4. Next steps to get ready to apply for a licence

As each local authority are still working through a process and costs for this, we suggest the following two actions:

  1. Is your short-term let a Planning Control Areas (PCA), or proposed? Please then check the requirements for a certificate of lawfulness or planning permission
  2. Review the mandatory licence requirements and start the work you need to do to be in compliance

This page will be updated as and when local authorities publish decisions which will affect your application.

Favourite or bookmark this page in your browser to make it easy to find.

5. Key questions

We know there are many more questions related to this new legislation. That's why we’ve pulled some of the key questions – and more importantly answers – to make it a little easier for you.

More questions will be added in the future, so please check back regularly.

6. Industry Advisory Group

Ahead of the implementation, we agreed to work with the associations who represent those affected by this legislation.

Committed to work together, and in collaboration with the Scottish Government, we have set out to give businesses the right advice.

We want to help you through the process of applying for a short-term let licence or planning permission.

We’ll be updating this page regularly so do check back.

7. Industry Advisory Group participants

  • Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers

  • Scottish B&B Association

  • Scottish Guest House and B&B Alliance

  • Scottish Tourism Alliance

  • Short Term Accommodation Association

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